Lake County may rent space during renovation

Nearly 140 Lake County employees would move to rented quarters when four floors of the main office in downtown Waukegan are gutted as part of an ongoing project to improve energy efficiency.

About 120 people from the recorder of deeds, human resources, information technology, county administrator, and finance and administrative departments would move to an office building at 1325 Tri-State Parkway in Gurnee at a cost of nearly $19,863 per month.

“It's actually very, very favorable rent,” said Gary Gordon, the county's director of finance and administrative services. The county would sublease 25,000 square feet at $9.50 per square foot from a tenant that is moving out and the space would be furnished and otherwise office ready, Gordon said.

County officials are considering a contract of more than $5.5 million for the work on the sixth through ninth floors of the county headquarters, as well as two leases to accommodate displaced workers for up to 20 months.

Members of the county board's financial and administrative committee will consider a contract with Joseph J. Henderson & Son Inc. of Gurnee to continue the rehab work, as well as the leases, at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the county offices, 18 N. County St., Waukegan.

The committee recommendation will be forwarded to the full county board for action April 9.

Twenty months of rent for the Gurnee building, which is owned by Crown Grand Tri-State LLC in care of Crown Properties Inc., of Garden City, N.Y., would be about $417,058. That would not include a one-time furniture rental fee of $19,800.

County officials said several locations were considered, but the need to build out the space or furnish available spaces made it too costly.

“We tried as hard as we could to stay close to Waukegan, but every place there was a blank slate,” said Brent Paxton, a county board member and finance committee chairman. “We got a very good deal because it was a complete package.”

Eighteen employees of the county assessor's office will move to leased space at 415 Washington St., near the county building, for a cost of nearly $130,000, or about $7,203 per month for 18 months.

“Because of the public interaction, because of the assessment process and hearing process, it made sense to keep them here,” Gordon said.

Rehab of the administrative tower began in 2010 to reduce energy use and costs by replacing windows, lighting systems and associated work. Henderson was awarded the contract for the second through fifth floors, which was completed last fall, and will be retained to finish as county rules allow for that continuity.

The 1960s-era building is not considered energy efficient.

“Literally, you could feel the breeze when you stood next to some of the windows,” Paxton said. “The (heating and air conditioning) was very antiquated and outdated.”

The county received $5 million in federal funds for the first part of the work but will pay from its capital budget to complete it.

“It's not a beautification project. It's really the energy efficiencies,” Gordon said.

Through equipment upgrades and other measures at all its facilities, energy costs dropped from $4.2 million in 2007 to $2.5 million last year, according to county estimates.

The Gurnee lease is scheduled to begin April 10. Basic services, such as job applications or looking up deeds, would continue to be available at the County Building during the renovation.

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